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Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners
     

Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners

by Michael Mazzeo, Paul Oyer, Scott Schaefer
 

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While playing hooky from a conference in Boston a few years back, three former colleagues from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management hopped in a car and headed on a road trip. They pulled into a shoe store in Maine and noticed that the sales help was unusually pushy. After a few questions, they discovered the store had a "secret shopper" program, in which

Overview

While playing hooky from a conference in Boston a few years back, three former colleagues from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management hopped in a car and headed on a road trip. They pulled into a shoe store in Maine and noticed that the sales help was unusually pushy. After a few questions, they discovered the store had a "secret shopper" program, in which employees would be marked down if they were not sufficiently aggressive with customers. A lightbulb went off.

Instead of teaching the tried-and-true case studies involving GE and Microsoft, these three wise men decided to pull their heads out of their ivory towers and go in search of insights about product differentiation, pricing, brand management, building a team, and a host of other topics. Why take your cues on employee compensation from Wall Street when you can learn from a Main Street company like Couer D'Alene's best crime-scene cleaner? Want to learn about scaling a business? Come meet Dr. Burris, the flying orthodontist, who operates multiple, profitable practices in rural Arkansas.

The book isn't all egghead; the chapters are spiced with the type of vehicular mishaps and Maalox moments that are common on any road trip.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/21/2014
Enjoying some downtime after a conference, Mazzeo, Oyer, and Schaefer (professors at the business schools of Northwestern, Stanford, and the University of Utah, respectively) walked into a small shoe store and ended up discussing management techniques and business strategies with the manager and sales team. The three realized that small business strategy is just as robust and complex as that of huge corporations. Determined that Wall Street should learn from Main Street, the authors visited small business across the U.S., including a orthodontist’s office in Arkansas; a women’s fitness center in Kentucky; and a machine shop and small law firm in Iowa. From this experience, they brought back lessons on scaling a business, negotiation, hiring, and delegation, among other topics. The friendly tone keeps the reader’s attention through easy-to-remember business wisdom: “Mazzeo’s Law: The answer to every strategic question is ‘It depends.’ Corollary 1: The trick is knowing what it depends on. Corollary 2: If the answer to a question isn’t ‘It depends,’ then it’s not a strategic question.” This bird’s-eye-view business title is gimmicky, but fun. Agent: Zoë Pagnamenta, Zoë Pagnamenta Agency. (June)
From the Publisher
"Roadside MBA succeeds admirably in providing fresh examples to illustrate the basic tenets of MBA theory."—The Economist"

For those who don't have the time or money to go to business school, but teem with ambition, or for burgeoning small business owners looking for creative ideas, Roadside MBA is an excellent primer. Pick and choose the businesses that illustrate what you want to learn, grab your favorite snacks, and then hit the road, because with Mazzeo, Oyer, and Schaefer at the wheel, you're in good hands."—Fortune.com"

A reminder of everything that makes business vital, fascinating—even fun."—Inc. Magazine"

An excellent primer on dealing with problems that keep managers...awake at night."—Financial Times"

A great new book that combines two quintessentially American things: the road trip and small businesses."—Jack Covert selects"

Refreshingly different from your typical high-toned business books....Timeless lessons for every executive, entrepreneur, and business student."—Bloomberg BusinessWeek"

Roadside MBA combines humor with business theory and practice in a fresh, amusing way. You'll be entertained and educated, ending up with a newfound admiration for the ingenuity of small-town businesses."—Success

Library Journal
07/01/2014
Books in the "economics lite" category—combining storytelling with largely jargon-free illustrations of economics principles (e.g., Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's Freakonomics)—continue to appeal to readers. This title, in which case studies examine small business strategic decisions according to the framework for analyzing operations of industry giants, fits that mold. Mazzeo (management and strategy, Northwestern Univ.), Paul Oyer (Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics, Stanford Univ. Graduate Sch. of Business), and Scott Schaefer (Kendall D. Garff Chair in Business Administration, finance, Univ. of Utah's David Eccles Sch. of Business), cover businesses in areas as disparate as fire hose manufacturing, dog care, and orthodontia. Stressing the necessity of continuous realignment with the competitive environment and of understanding why a strategy works, the authors offer guidelines for product/service pricing, scaling the volume of business, hiring, setting employee incentives, managing product differentiation and branding, negotiating, and other key operational decisions. Less badinage and more hard facts would have improved the book, however. VERDICT This blend of travelog and strategy is recommended for readers of popular small business management literature who aren't looking for a rigorous management title.—Elizabeth Wood, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781455598892
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
06/10/2014
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
708,479
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Michael Mazzeo is an Associate Professor of Management & Strategy at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management where he teaches the school's core MBA class in Business Strategy. Mike has a PhD in Economics from Stanford University, and lives in Chicago with his eight-year old son and many, many Legos.

Paul Oyer is the Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Paul has a PhD in Economics from Princeton University, and lives in Stanford, California with his two children.

Scott Schaefer holds the Kendall D. Garff Chair in Business Administration and is Professor of Finance at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business. He has a PhD in business economics from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and lives in Salt Lake City with his two children.

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